How To Carry A Water Bottle While Biking

Stay hydrated with one of these 6 great options

Search online and you’ll read that we should all be drinking a fair amount of water every day. As a general rule, you should aim for around half a gallon or two liters per day. That’s a not inconsiderable volume of water to drink. If you’re exercising though, then you should be drinking much more. As a rule of thumb, one 16-ounce bottle / 500mL per hour in cool weather, up to as much as four bottles / 2L per hour in extremely hot weather (based on a 150 lb / 70kg rider)

Why is it important to keep hydrated?

Well, research has shown that surprisingly little fluid loss can have a massive impact on your ability to cycle. A tiny 2% drop in body weight due to sweat (that’s only 3 lb / 1.4 kg for a 150 lb / 70 kg rider) will give a noticeable impairment to your riding, 4% will reduce the capacity for your muscles to work and, at 5%, heat exhaustion is possible and your capacity to work will drop by up to 30%. Hit 7% – we’re not even into double figures yet – and may start to experience hallucinations. At 10%, there is the chance of circulatory collapse, heat stroke and even death.

So, keep topped up, yeah? We’re not just talking about having a slightly dry mouth.

But how is it best to carry that water? It’s not like you can hold it when you’ve got both hands on the handlebars.

Quick answer: Schwinn Bicycle Water Bottle & Cage

Well, don’t worry, there are plenty of options depending on the style of bike you have and what suits you. You can go with one or more of those depending on your needs and the circumstances.

We’re going to take a look at these with the help of my friend, Mary. If you’re a long-time reader of Bicycle Volt, then you may remember Mary. She’s real friendly and will help demonstrate each of the options available.

Let’s take a look, shall we?


Short on time? Here are my top recommended methods of carrying a water bottle whilst biking:

  1. Backpack
  2. Waist pack
  3. Handlebars teamed with one of these and one of these
  4. Seatpost
  5. Downtube
  6. Seat downtube

My Top Recommended Methods of Carrying A Water Bottle While Biking

Okay, let’s welcome Mary along and together we’ll take a look at each of these in a bit more detail.

Mary and I have pulled together this handy infographic:

 

This details the key places where you can carry a water bottle whilst cycling, and we’re going to go through each of these in turn.


Option 1 = Backpack

What You Need To Know

This is probably my least favorite place to carry water. But there are a couple of major benefits to it.

With a backpack you can do one of two things:

– Pop a normal water bottle in your standard backpack
– Get a specialist backpack that comes with a type of soft water bottle called a ‘bladder’ and a hose attachment that you suck the water through

Let’s start with the downside to this approach. The main problem is that water is heavy and having lots of weight high up (versus being on the bike) can adversely affect your balance and make you wobbly. I also find that on hot days, having a backpack on will make my back very sweaty, and this exacerbates the issue: in trying to stay hydrated I’m making myself thirstier! D’oh!

It does have a couple of upsides though.

Firstly, you can carry more water on your back than you probably can anywhere else on your back – you’re just limited by the size of your pack and the strength of your back.

Secondly, having the drinking hose positioned near your mouth acts as a useful reminder and encourages you to drink. If it’s easy, you’ll do it.


Option 2 = Waist pack

So, waist packs. For my US readers, I’ll let you into a little secret. I know you call these things ‘Fanny packs’. Brits find this really funny, because in Britain ‘fanny’ is slang for, um, a lady’s, um, naughty bits. If you visit the UK (and I hope you do, there’s some great things to do here), please just refer to these waist packs as ‘Bum bags’.

Anyway, call them what you will, waist packs can be a useful way to carry a water bottle when cycling.

Originally used by long-distance runners for carrying food and water, cyclists have also now adopted them.

They’re very cost-effective, and you can easily stash a bottle in them. They’re easy to reach whilst you’re cycling and you don’t get the sweaty back thing like you do with a backpack.

They also keep the weight lower so help with your balance.


Option 3 = Handlebars

What You Need To Know

This is probably the most accessible place to store water on your bike. It’s easy to reach, and always on view, so it’s a constant reminder to keep drinking.

If water’s not really your thing, then you could always sup a takeaway cappuccino straight off your handlebars! Although remember that caffeine is a diuretic, so actually makes you thirstier (apologies for being all ‘Nanny State’ and ruining the fun…)

Team handlebar mounts like this up with a bottle cage like this one and a water bottle like this.

The handlebar mounts are versatile in that they can usually be positioned on either left or right of the bars (depending on which hand you prefer) or even on the upright part of the handlebar stem. Which has the advantage that the weight is stored centrally, rather than swung backwards and forwards with the handlebars as you turn.


Option 4 = Seat post

What You Need To Know

You may also find that the handlebar mounts can be positioned on the seat post as well. This would tuck underneath the saddle.

It’s a great position if aerodynamicity (which probably isn’t even a word) is your thing, as the water bottle is tucked out of the way.

However, bear in mind, that because it’s tucked out of the way, then it will be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and you will need to keep closer tabs on the volume of water you’re drinking as you ride.


Option 5 = Downtube

What You Need To Know

This is the classic position to store a water bottle on the bike. You will often find that there are two screws fitted on to the downtube. These are the fixings for the bottle cage and easily unscrew to mount the bottle holder.

With this positioning, the weight stays really low on the bike, so it’s great for balance. It does take a bit of practice to lift the bottle out whilst cycling and put it back in again. But you can always pull over for a drink until you’ve got this mastered.

Because it’s such a popular way of carrying water on the bike, then there are plenty of great options to choose from and at great prices too.


Option 6 = Seat downtube

What You Need To Know

Generally you would use this position if you were already using the front downtube for a bottle, and needed to carry a backup. They’re not easy to lift out and drink from whilst cycling. So normally you would drink from the downtube bottle first. Then stop, swap the bottles round, and carry on cycling and drinking.

That being said, they use the same cage and fixings. So they’re a very inexpensive way of doubling the amount of water you can carry. Plus they keep that weight low for balance.


Final word on methods of carrying a water bottle while biking

You’re not a camel. So you need help, particularly when you’re exercising hard in hot weather, to keep yourself hydrated.

Cycling without enough liquids to keep your hydration levels topped up is not a good idea and can be very dangerous.

Use one of these fantastic methods of carrying water next time you’re out on the bike and you’ll keep yourself from getting thirsty.

Be at one with your inner dromedary.

Stay safe.